Saturday, February 7, 2009

Audience Participation

So last night my mom kindly put Thomas to bed so that I could go see a street theater show in downtown Campinas.  This show was a part of the same festival that brought Gob Squad (well, a Brazilian group of actors trained by Gob Squad) for their opening night show: Feverestival.  THIS show was by a Sao Paulo company called A Brava Companhia.  The show was apparently was about Joan of Arc,  although I really couldn't get the details since the whole thing was obviously in Portuguese (I understood "Jingle Bells" and "Johnny Walker Red Label," although I don't know what those had to do with the show).  Despite the language  barrier, I really enjoyed it; the performers were playful, physically present and multi-talented... singing, dancing, drumming, blowing fire, etc...

I have to admit, however, that the most memorable part came with a little unplanned audience participation.  There was a lot of drumming going on and all of a sudden a woman ran and jumped into the playing space with her shopping bag.  She threw herself on the ground and solemnly gave a shoe box to the young actress who was alone in the space, kneeling on the ground.  The actress stayed present and I began to wonder if this was all a part of the show.  The woman was speaking in Portuguese, and began rolling on the concrete like she was in an intermediate modern class at Zenon.  At around this time, I could see the other audience members faces going from amused to shocked -- perhaps because they could understand what she was saying?  She then began pulling on the skirt of the actress and when the actress tried to pull it back, the woman became violent... trying to hit her and then she threw the rest of her shopping bag out into the audience, hitting some people.  I was sitting on the ground in the front row so I, and everyone around me, stood up in case things got uglier.  Audience members quickly jumped into the playing space to grab the woman who was very very angry and upset, violently trying to get away from them.  They finally managed to remove her from the space and, although you could still hear her agitating behind us, the show continued.

One of my classmates, Vivi, later explained that it seemed that she was in a trance, induced by all the drumming.  Vivi guessed that the woman was a follower of vodun or cadomble and that she thought the actress was her dead daughter.  What's even more interesting is that today in class Galen started to tell Jesser, our instructor, about the incident and Jesser's first question was something like, "was it because of the performance?" Several classmates responded, "yes, there was a lot of drumming," and that seemed to answer his question sufficiently.  I think it's fascinating that in Brazil, this would be someone's first assumption -- not mental illness, drugs, or simply a case of an audience member being mischievous.

Anyways, last class of "Technical Training for the Actor 2" is tomorrow.  We LASers are the only people staying on for another workshop and I will be sad to say goodbye to everyone tomorrow: Jean, Isabel, Alfonso, Rodrigo, Diana, Marianna, Yaska, Umberto, and Vivi.  I have enjoyed getting to know all of them.

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